Tibet Buddy is an app intended for DIY backpackers interested in visiting Tibet. Today, conventional package tours are no longer able to satiate the diversified needs of the tourists, and therefore DIY tours, which allow tourists to make personal traveling plans and arrangement, become increasingly popular these days.
This is a semester-long project of the course Co-design of New Media, fulfilled by a group of 6 people including me. The design originated from one casual discussion about DIY travel experience in Tibet. Many of us have identified the deficiency of current traveling mode: there is few opportunities for travelers to explore the authentic local culture. Under a distinctive cultural background, DIY travel fans would feel helpless and find it hard to truly explore local culture, such as local people, religious belief, etc.
Local Tibetans are able to provide useful guidance for DIY travelers looking for a more in-depth traveling experience in Tibet.
Compared to traditional tourism app, Tibet Buddy not only focuses on travelers, but also emphasizes the involvement of local people. Also, it not only serves as source of information during the initial stage of DIY planning, but is also intended to provide travelers with actual guidance when they are enjoying their journey in Tibet.
The market potential is huge.
tourists accommodated by Tibet each year
Total revenue of tourism industry in Tibet reached its peak last year.
Tibet has long been known as a mystic place for its rich cultural heritage and breathtaking scenery, which attract tens of millions of visitors per year. Also, tourism industry has accounted for an increasingly important proportion of local Tibetans’ financial income.
Tibet Buddy helps solve the problem.
Travelers can hardly explore local Tibetan culture in depth for a mixture of reasons. First is its distinctive language and religious belief, resulting in barrier when people traveling in Tibet. Also, in terms of travelers themselves, their time and energy is pretty limited while the information accessible is not sufficient and accurate enough. Therefore, local Tibetans are helpful to provide useful information and guidance for people visiting Tibet.
Who are using it?
We conducted interview with 10 DIY traveling fans and sent out 50 questionnaires online to know about the common habits of self-conducted travelers. We also interviewed 5 local Tibetan students through the introduction of one of our classmate from Tibet.
Our potential users can be categorized into two general groups—the DIY travelers looking forward to visiting Tibet as well as local Tibetans who are able to provide useful guidance. More detailedly, the group of travelers can be sub-divided into three main categories, based primarily on their previous self-conducted traveling experiences and their traveling budget.
How might we help smooth the process?
Based on familiarity with DIY traveling, and individualized traveling needs, three personas were made to represent three typical traveler users. Also, another persona was created to represent the typical Tibetan buddy. Our goal is to satiate their needs to the utmost.
Based on DIY travelers’ individualized needs, and the desire of local people to promote genuine Tibetan culture while making some extra money, a platform between travelers and local people can be established so as to fulfill both sides of needs. Besides, by signing a formal contract, the safety of travelers and local people can be guaranteed.
After analyzing users’ needs seriously, we conceived three main sections for the app: Recommend— recommend worthwhile places to visit by local Tibetans; Buddy— make appointments with local people as tour guide; Explore— share your stories and photos. And we made sketches and wireframes to visualize our ideas.
A brief to-be journey map
Make individualized traveling route
Travelers select the places they want to visit and add them to the map. Then the system would automatically generate the most efficient route for travelers. Travelers can also mark their location during the journey on their personalized map.
Order with local buddy
Travelers check the profiles of local people, and select one as buddy. After that, travelers fill in personal information and make a order successful.
Send personalized route to buddy
Travelers open a chat screen with buddy, and send their personalized route to the buddy via a link. Then they can get some tips or advice from the buddy to make the journey most desirable.
“ Recommend” Section
(For local buddy)
We used Heuristic Evaluation and Cognitive Walkthroughs to evaluate our design. During the evaluation process, we recored the time each sampled users took to finish the assigned tasks, and documented their behavior while doing the tasks. After making some revisions of our design, we conducted Usability Testing to evaluate our amended low-fi prototype. And our major revisions are listed below.